The opening of our local Farmers Market is always such a wonderful occasion. To celebrate, we decided to do a Family Farmer’s Market Challenge. At least once a month, we are going to find a fruit or vegetable we’ve never tried, buy a few, then take them home and make something. I am getting terrific information both from the vendors at the market and from one of my favorite cookbooks: Vegetarian and Vegetable Cooking: The Definitive Encyclopedia of Healthy Vegetarian Food, by Christine Ingram.
The encyclopedia section of the book covers nearly 100 different fruits and vegetables, providing pictures, history, selection and storage tips, preparation notes, and cooking suggestions. The rest of the cookbook contains hundreds of recipes with beautiful pictures. I love this cookbook, especially when I need the courage to try something new.
The June challenge item was kohlrabi. Angela, from Norway Farms, helped me select a few bulbs and suggested a raw preparation, either sliced or in salad. She described kohlrabi as a member of the cabbage family, on the milder side. Ingram describes kohlrabi as being similar in some ways to water chestnuts. That was certainly true with the texture, but the flavor and aromas are distinctly cabbage-like. Ingram states that kohlrabi can be used instead of carrots or turnips, and suggests several hot preparations, almost all involving cheese and/or cream sauce. I’m starting to see why I like her cookbook so much.
Ingram advises us to look for small, young kohlrabi for the best flavor and texture. They can be stored in a cool place for up to a week or so. Neither my farmstand friend nor the cookbook mentioned the kohlrabi greens, but a little bit of internet research tells me that the greens are also edible and can be cooked like mustard or collard greens.
I did two different preparations of the kohlrabi – one hot and one cold. The cold kohlrabi was cut julienne and added to matchstick carrots with a sesame and rice wine vinaigrette.
The salad was pretty good, but nothing special – sort of a cole slaw with an Asian vibe. I will definitely work on a new version of this recipe for a future post. I really liked how easy it was to shred kohlrabi vs. shredding a head of cabbage.
Our hot preparation was a Roasted Kohlrabi with Parmesan. It looked like roasted potatoes and tasted like roasted cauliflower with cheese. It was better than roasted cauliflower, though, because it was so much easier to get the right texture without overcooking the vegetable.
We loved this and will make it again. The Hippie Husband returned from the farmer’s market the following week with a whole bag of kohlrabi and a request for this side dish to appear on the table at least one more time. The recipe is here:
- 2-3 kohlrabi
- 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 cloves of crushed or minced garlic
- 3 Tablespoons grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 1 teaspoon of salt (+ more, to taste)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees
- Trim the tops and bottoms of the kohlrabi bulbs, then peel the tough outer layers with a sharp knife.
- Dice kohlrabi.
- In a large bowl, toss kohlrabi with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour onto baking sheet or roasting pan.
- Roast for 20 minutes, stir, and continue to roast until lightly browned, stirring every 5 minutes.
- Sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano and return to oven until cheese is brown and bubbly, about 5 more minutes.
- Taste and adjust seasoning.